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Drivers More Active Than Expected Using Driver-Assist System

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An aerial view of an interstate highway.

June 14, 2021—Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers were surprised to find that drivers took over for driver-assist systems more often than expected to perform functions the systems are unable to do.

Automotive News reported on the study, which found that users of General Motors' Super Cruise stepped in to change lanes and perform other non-emergency maneuvers more often that engineers had expected.

"A mean of 9.98 of these transitions were performed per trip, according to the study, and they almost always do not represent a driver responding to a perceived risk. Rather, human drivers are doing so to conduct those maneuvers or because they prefer to intermittently drive," the story says.

Pnina Gershon, a research scientist at MIT's Center for Transportation and Logistics AgeLab and the study's lead author, told Automotive News the results showed drivers remained engaged despite the systems capabilities.

"In the back of my mind, I thought that drivers would probably put the automation on when the system was available and then disengage it when they got off the highway," she told the outlet. "That was my expectation. But it's surprising there's a high degree of collaboration between the driver and the system, even though it's hands-free driving."

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